ST. LOUIS–Referring to Beyoncé’s Formation Tour as simply a concert is an unfair understatement to the experience. What those thousands who nearly filled the Dome at America’s Center to capacity witnessed Saturday night, September 10, was actually the ultimate mic drop that proved why she’s in a performance category all her own.
A delayed start was about the only negative note that one could attach to last night’s show. But those who waited until 9:30 p.m. would’ve certainly stayed on standby until midnight if they had an advance notice of what was in store for them once she finally took the stage.
The “Beyhive” was buzzing with excitement and anticipation from the moment they took their seats – which meant show opener Vic Mensa didn’t get the attention he deserved for his opening performance.
The Chicago rapper/singer showcased both versatility as an artist and the type of natural stage presence and composure that stars are made of during the brief set.
Mensa didn’t seem the least bit overwhelmed by the size of the crowd as he performed hits that ranged from party music club banger (his current radio hit “New Bae”) to politically charged material that addressed the current gun violence epidemic that has a spotlight on his hometown, police violence against people of color and the Flint, Michigan water crisis. Unfortunately, by the time the audience tuned in and took notice, his portion of the show was over.
Fans would have to wait another 40 minutes after Mensa’s exit before they could get in formation.
Beyoncé emerged from a video cube almost as tall as the top of the Dome that folded and split into in order for her to make the grandest of entrances.
She proclaimed that she would “slay” at the start of the show when she performed the song for which the tour is named as her opening selection. She kept her promise with a two hour set that saw her perform nearly three dozen selections, a handful of wardrobe changes (with makeup refreshes to match each outfit) as well as production value and set design that seemed to come courtesy of a time travel to 2035. The stage extended midway into the Dome. Pyrotechnics, fireworks, video footage, aerial acrobatics, a splash pool even a moving walkway were incorporated into the show’s special effects. The only downside was that the band and background singers (including St. Louis’ own Montina Cooper) were relegated to the sidelines and behind the massive set.
But bells and whistles of the jaw dropping production aside, Beyoncé and her squad – which includes her backup vocalists that she affectionately named “The Mamas,” an all-female band and her team of dancers – could have performed around crates and tissue paper and still elicited a standing ovation because of the performance value.
There had to be blood in the bottom of each pair of the custom made Christian Louboutin boots she wore over the course of the night because of the intense choreography she performed with the same precision as her crew of dancers. And there wasn’t an inkling of indication of the vocal strain that caused her to postpone a show in New Jersey earlier this week. Beyoncé left everything on the colossal stage at the Dome and was as appreciative and honored to perform as the audience was to take in the show.
Though the biggest taste went to her latest album “Lemonade,” Beyoncé served from each of her solo albums and two selections from her Destiny’s Child days (“Bootylicious” and “Survivor”). St. Louis certainly saw the best of Beyoncé as she covered every range of emotion – from unconditional love, heartbreak and rage to raw seduction through songs and video interludes. There was the unapologetic boss Beyoncé, also known as “King Bey” through selections like “Bow Down,” “Flawless,” “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” “Ring the Alarm” and “Diva.”
“Since 15 in my stilettos I’ve been strutting in this game,” Beyoncé fervently sang during her performance of “Diva.”
A clip of a young Beyoncé Knowles as she had just celebrated her 16th birthday, roughly twenty years to the day of her visit to the Dome, provided a full circle moment for those who have watched her grow into an artist that already stands alongside popular music icons – and has remained perched atop the industry since her 2003 “Dangerously in Love” debut solo album.
Fans got a double dose of her solo single debut “Crazy in Love” with the house music inspired original incarnation and the re-imagined version made famous by the “Fifty Shades of Grey” film. She also got “Drunk in Love” and made it an interactive exchange as she demanded everyone to sing along.
She belted her heart out on “1+1” – admitting the song is her favorite to perform on the tour – and an acapella version of “Love on Top.” The love fest continued when she extended her female empowerment anthem “Single Ladies” to St. Louis native John Silver for an opportunity to deliver a most unforgettable proposal to his girlfriend, Beyoncé’s dancer Ashley Everett. “I put a ring on it,” Silver said as the couple, the entire audience and Beyoncé herself basked in the moment.
Splashing around in a wading pool, Beyoncé carried on with “Freedom,” “Survivor” and “End of Time” – which compelled several already in the aisles to follow the show as it transitioned from each portion of the stage to perform the selection’s intricate choreography in complete sync with Beyoncé and her dancers.
It was a moment of Beyhive bliss that seemed to touch a soaked Beyoncé – wet from the pool, but also sweat and tears – just before she bid farewell to St. Louis with an endearing performance of “Halo.”